Skip to main content

About this Show

Book TV

Jeanne Theoharis Education. (2013) 'The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.' New.

NETWORK

DURATION
01:15:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 17 (141 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Naacp 12, Us 10, Conyers 8, Rosa 6, Nixon 6, Raymond 5, Alabama 4, Virginia 4, Martin Luther King 4, Robinson 3, Montgomery 3, Hemingway 3, U.s. 3, Etc. 3, John Conyers 3, Emerson 3, Blake 2, Martin Luther 2, United States 2, Scottsboro 2,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    Book TV    Jeanne Theoharis  Education.  (2013) 'The  
   Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.' New.  

    February 17, 2013
    9:45 - 11:00am EST  

9:45am
emerson. of whom you've written an absolutely marvelous book. but it was a gathering of scholars, historians, critics, writers, the whole transcend dental gang appreciating emerson from a whole variety of particular angles. and lo and behold, you stood up in the middle of this meeting, and you said i'm bob richardson, and i just wrote this mind on fire book about emerson. but just for the record, you wanted it known that you don't analyze him, you don't see him historically, you don't, you know, do chemical tests on the paper or his soul or whatever. you said i take him straight. i read him as a kind of uncle "wall-e" doe. and when he says trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron strength, you can admire the line, you can run it through any number of tests, but you
9:46am
said i think he's telling me to trust myself. um, and, you know, follow the gleam of light in your own mind from within, etc., etc., etc. it seems to me that cuts through a lot of this stuff we've been talking about and hearing about this weekend in the sense that, you know, when all else fails, we can take these writers straight. >> it's an extreme remedy, but it is possible, yeah. [laughter] they do talk to you. thank you. >> one more? [applause] >> one more. >> this is the most moving lecture i've heard. for some reason it just pushed the right button. i'm one -- and i've read all the books that you suggested, but i read them as a teenager as you did, certainly am going to go read them again. do you have any other wonderful
9:47am
suggestions of books we should read? [laughter] >> well, if you haven't read them all again, read my wife's books again, annie dillard. american childhood -- [applause] >> [inaudible] >> nice. thank you. [applause] >> visit booktv.org to watch any of the programs you see here online. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on booktv.org easily by clicking "share" on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. booktv streams live online for 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. booktv.org. >> jeanne three yo harris recounts rosa parks' political
9:48am
activism. she argues she is often only remembered for her bus arrest in montgomery, alabama, but her involvement in the civil rights movement was far more extensive. this is about an hour, five. >> good evening. my name is georgette norman, director of troy university rosa parks' museum. on behalf of the chancellor, the faculty, student body, i welcome you to our campus. i want to ask you a question. very glad you're here. how are you politicized? how are you acculture ated? want you to think about that. as we honor rosa parks' 100% birthday, we have -- 100th birthday, we have the honor of having with us to start this whole celebration off dr. jeannie theoharis who asked that question of rosa parks.
9:49am
what was behind that no? that no heard round the world? those little two letters that opened the floodgates of all those divergent streams into that one vast ocean. at the time that no carried with it great risk. risk in terms of gender, class and race. the question is, what is behind that kind of courage? what makes one take those kinds of stands? and more importantly, what is the price paid for having done so? dr. three theoharis answers somf those questions, and she writes
9:50am
it in her new book, "the rebellious life of rosa parks." jeannie theoharis was born in staten island, spent about six weeks there, and her family moved to milwaukee, wisconsin, where she was raised. she held the first chair in women's studies and is professor of political science at brooklyn college. she's also cofounder of educators for civil liberties. she's the author of numerous books on the civil rights movement and the contemporary politics of race in the united states. including as co-author "our schools suck: students talk back to a segregated nation on the failures of urban schools." dr. theoharis received her ab in african-american studies from harvard college and a ph.d. from the university of michigan. she is the author or co-author of six books and numerous
9:51am
articles on the black freedom struggle and the contemporary politics of race in the united states. her latest book, the one you're here about tonight, from which she will be reading represents a corrective to the popular icon graph my as parks as that quiet seam stress with one little single act, birth of the modern civil rights movement. she reveals a civil rights movement radical who fought to expose and eradicate the american racial caste system in jobs, schools, public services and criminal justice. help me welcome dr. jeannie theoharis. [applause] >> i'm so delighted to be here. my book came out last week, and it wouldn't have been possible
9:52am
without the help and support and vision of many, many people including many be people here many montgomery who talked to me, who pointed me towards materials and be archives. so this book -- and many people also in detroit who did the same thing, who were committed to telling a bigger, broader story not just of one day of rosa parks, but a life of being rebellious, as she would put it. so i am tremendously grateful to be here tonight and also tremendously grateful to georgette norman, to many people that i interviewed for the book here in montgomery and in detroit that, certainly, this book is far better for that. it is one of the most well known american stories even among elementary schoolers. on the evening of december 1, 1955, saw parks took the bus home after work.
9:53am
when the front of the bus filled and one white man was left standing, the bus driver asked her to move. parks refused. and the bus driver had her arrested. her arrest galvanized the black community in a yearlong boycott of montgomery buses ensued. this catapulted a young martin luther king jr. into national leadership and ushered in the modern civil rights movement. one year later, montgomery's buses were desegregated. but despite parks' placement in that story, we rarely see the story and its surrounding history from her perspective. hidden in plain sight she is the symbol, but rarely the story. parks has been awarded the nation's highest honors; congressional gold medal, presidential medal of freedom, the first woman and second african-american ever to lie in
9:54am
honor in the nation's capitol. next monday, february 4th, on the centennial of her birth, the post office will issue a stamp in her honor. but despite these honors, her legacy has too often been reduced to a simple act by a quiet seam stress on a single day. that fable of rosa parks is used to show how far we have come, to put the history of the civil rights movement firmly in the past. her quietness is celebrated over and over and over again. particularly because we are in this historic space where she made this stand, it seems fitting to return to that founding moment and its broader history and look at it anew. seeing these events from her perspective changes and deepens how we understand the civil rights movement in four substantial ways. first, it gives us a much longer history, more than a decade, of the political work that parks
9:55am
and a cadre of activists at montgomery did to till the soil for a movement to emerge in montgomery. second, it shows the courageous, how courageous, in fact, parks' bus stand was, the key roles many people -- including many women played -- in the black freedom struggle and the sacrifice and suffering it produced for parks and her family. third, it shows the breadth of the civil rights movement as the parks family are forced to leave montgomery, and she spends more than half of her political life in detroit challenging the racism of the jim crow no. -- north. finally, it provides lessons, i think, for us today of what it takes the to make change in a moment and over the course of a lifetime and what her legacy asks of us now. so who was rosa parks before the
9:56am
boycott? parks had a life history of being rebellious, as she put it. she was raised by her mother and grandparents who taught rosa to stand up for herself. her grandfather was a follower of marcus garvey. there was no education provided for black children past the sixth grade, so at great sacrifice her mother sent her to miss white's school for girls here in montgomery. rosa was a reserved girl, a bit of a goody two shoes, her friends thought, who followed the school's prohibitions against dancing, movies, makeup and short hair. but she had a feisty side. when she and her brother were threatened by a white bully, she picked up a brick and threatened to hit him. he stopped. when a young boy pushed her in front of his mother, she pushed back. when the mother threatened to kill her, she said he pushed me, and i didn't want him pushing me. parks met and fell in love with
9:57am
raymond parks in 1931, the first real activist i ever met, she says. when they married, raymond parks was working to free the nine scottsboro boys, nine young men ages 12-1-9d who -- 19 who had been caught riding the rails, riding the trains as many people did during the great depression. two white women had been found on that train, and that charge quickly turned to rape, and they were quickly charged and sentenced to death. raymond and a group of people, of local people sort of became the ground work for a kind of free and defend the scottsboro boys. and rosa joined raymond in this very dangerous organizing. the meetings were secret. she recalled one late night meeting at her house with guns covering the table and later reflected that she was so scared she forgot to offer any refreshment. in 1943 she saw a picture of johnny carr, a classmate from miss white's, in a photo of the
9:58am
local naacp. realizing the organization was open to women, she decided to attend her first meeting. the only woman there that day, the branch was having elections, and she was elected secretary. she wanted to register to vote. edie nixon, a sleeping carporter and active in the union for sleeping carporters, was heading up this effort. indeed, there were only 30 black people in montgomery at that time registered to vote. nixon came by her apartment to bring her some materials and so became -- and so began, excuse me, a partnership that would change the course of american history. >> he tried three times to vote -- she tried three times to vote. part of the process was a test, but that test was administered differently for black people than for white people. on the third time she took it, sure that she had passed and deciding that she would consider bringing suit if she didn't can
9:59am
pass, she copied down all the questions and the answers. the registrar saw her. she passed the test. a final hurdle was that once you were registered people were required to pay poll taxes not just from the year that they got registered, but from all the years back to when they have been ostensibly eligible to vote. $1.50 for each year. so for rosa parks, that was $18 which was an extraordinary amount of money, but they found it. edie nixon and rosa parks wanted to transform the montgomery naacp into a more activist branch, and so in 1945 nixon runs for president and wins. parks, again, is elected secretary. mid l class members of the -- mid l class members of the branch opposed these politics, and they wrote to the national naacp office -- and these letters are at the national library of congress, and they're mad, and they don't like him, and they think he's a dictator for his politicking, and they
10:00am
try to unseat them, and they try to get the national office to come in. both parks and nixon were working class, they lived on the working class west side. she is living in the cleveland court projects with her husband, and then her mother moves there. nixon and parks are reelected to head the montgomery branch, and they also come to head the alabama conference of the naacp. a lot of what they did in this period, and this is the late '40s, was try to document white brutality against black people, try to sort of file affidavits and also to sort of protest and challenge legal lynching. the prosecuting of black men for sexual crimes who had either stepped out of place or were having consensual relationships with white women, and so these charges were sort of used to sort of put people back in their place. ..
10:01am
she becomes a mentor for rosa parks and zero so will stay with rosa parks when she comes to my camry. over and over, this small group of act of a scarcer days trying to demonstrate their opposition.
10:02am
the most of these cases go nowhere. but she is increasingly discouraged. she reforms the youth chapter of the branch and takes great pleasure in working at the young people in a particular trying to get the young people to take more forceful stance against segregation, including a sudan because the main library was an open to black key trends. black people had to go to the colored range to get books. so she and the young people start to do great ends but they try to get the main branch to serve them. on the suggestion avoids civil rights supporter and leftist virginia dare, rosa parks decides to attend a two-week workshop that high lander school on school desegregation. high lander was dental school and by the 1950s had turned attention to civil rights.
10:03am
but it always been an interracial space, but by the 50s and in the wake of the brown decision and the supreme court's unwillingness to put any time table on school desegregation. in 1955 it was the classic language. the supreme court backs off any of limitation comes to act to this he ran high lander and rosa parks see that they're going to have to do this themselves. for two weeks in 1955, rosa parks joins us for eight other people to develop the implementation of school desegregation. this is tremendously good for her spirit. it's the first time she feels she could speak and he did meet with why people without hostility. she liked waking up in the morning and having way people make her breakfast. so she is a teacher who had been
10:04am
fired because she refused to give up her membership at the naacp is another huge inspiration and mentor and parks really admires how calm clark is when she feels so nervous and so sort of worn down. i'm the last day like many training workshops they do go around and say what they're going to do when they go back. rosa parks said nothing's going to have in my camry. his second battery c., but resistance is too enormous in the community is unified and will stick together. so i'm going to work with the young people. so the idea of rosa parks up and did what she did miss is the community, the fortitude and the frustration that laid the groundwork for her action. okay, so the bus. various misconceptions as most of you know, she was not in the ways action.
10:05am
she was not particularly tired that day. her act required tremendous courage in part because she and many other people have made stance on the bus again perturbation that it's gone nowhere. the buster ever carried a gun. her act was not the first or the third. indeed, a number of black people had made stance on the bus. her neighbor, hillier brooks in 1950 had been killed by police for his stand on the bus. 15-year-old colt men arrested in march had been manhandled by police. holden's arrest had stunned the black community and parks had raised money for her case, but no less movement had emerged. on that december evening, she got off work, deciding to wait for a less credit than she goes to the drugstore to pick up a few things. about 5:30 she takes a seat in the middle section.
10:06am
at the third stop, the bus fills up and one white man is left standing. and by the terms of segregation at that time, four people are going to have to get up for that one white man to say it. the driver, james fred lake tells a poor black people to move. three reluctantly, according to parks, get up, that pushed us very she could be pushed, she decides to stand fast, making the way to get out and cited over to the window. people say i didn't get off my seat because i was tired, but that isn't true. i was not tired physically or no more than i was at the end of the working day. no, the only tired i was was tired of giving and. but she did not believe that any movement necessarily would ensue from our acts. there is no evidence of any plan or indication to the moment presented itself to rosa parks knew she could summon the courage to refuse to move from her seat.
10:07am
it is likely that she like many but uncovering had talked about what they would do if she was asked to give up her seat to a white person. thinking are talking about it and actually being able to act in the moment are vastly different as vastly different as most of us know. but what makes parks different is the now moment, she seized the opportunity and summons the will to stand fast. i'm sure they should get off the bus for life, she described that one of the worst days of her life. in interviews later, she and mr. bush and other people had joined her and describes her standing less than triumphal terms. at times i thought resigned to give a to protest the way i was treated. but she also contextualize her decision within her role in a political organizer, an opportunity was given to me to do what i asked of others. cso part of a fledgling movement
10:08am
she thought she had a responsibility to act on the larger community. she'd been pushing the young people have grown disappointed in the ways adults in the community had failed our young people. her decision to act with remonstrations as much as the lack of change than a belief that her particular action would alter anything. i simply did it because at that nobody else would do anything. so back to the bus. blake is not the best to call his supervisor who tells him to put her off the bus. that's what the supervisor says. people are grumbling on the bus speed she can't hear them, but they're crumbling. late then cause the police and the police calm and could have just evicted her from the bus. and she believes that's what the police wanted to do. she overhears them saying something, but blake insists he wants her arrested and increased to come down to send the
10:09am
paperwork. she also won a number of interviews talks about finding her arrest irritating and annoying. i love these stories because at the time she's planning to speak youth workshop that evening. now she's got herself arrested and she doesn't see this as the moment where it's all going to open up. she just sees nine point to be arrested. she comes home. meanwhile nixon and that there is a solace there has been kind to bail her out a few hours later. they go back to parks department and nixon is delighted because this is the testes are looking for. raymond is worried for her safety, but also that the community will stay together and back hurt in the long run as had happened with his case. after some discussion, she decides to go forward.
10:10am
she calls fred graves a young black lawyer in town that she's in mentoring, meeting with reid said she calls him that night and then calls joanne robb didn't come ahead of the political council and decide to call for a one-day boycott on the monday to be arranged in court. in the middle of the night, robinson with two students makes into alabama's state or she is a professor invents a 35,000 leaflets. at 3:00 a.m., robinson calls nixon. robinson doesn't call perks interestingly, she calls nixon and a 5:00 in the morning, ed nick finster's making calls to ministers in town because he wants in sees the need for the ministers to be on board. so because i've are not the, reverend abernathy, and a gun
10:11am
town by the name of reverend mark luther came to his new andy's church essentially located and nixon sees this as an ideal place to have this meeting. it is not till the next day at lunch however that rosa parks finds out about these plans when she goes like she usually does, she often would have lunch of fried grease. when she gets there that day, she finds out about the plan. meanwhile, that saturday she is scheduled this youth workshop and only a couple kids, and she's really disappointed in increasingly nervous he said she plans this whole thing, nobody comes another plainest boycott for monday and she is worried. so the first day of the boycott is amazing and she very much describes her best memory from that whole year been waking up
10:12am
at that moment and seeing the bases empty. she goes to court and then after court goes to help a. this really evidences her core political spirit. she doesn't go back to work that day. she doesn't go home. obviously it's been kind of a big day. she goes back because there's so these people calling and so she answers the phone, but she doesn't tell people that it's her. so she's telling people what they need to know, but is not saying this is me, rosa parks. and then meanwhile, that afternoon, great post to a meeting that is the meeting that will burst the montgomery association. the rosa parks is back in the office answering phones while gray and king and this is the beginning of the montgomery improvement association, the seeds of it. and that night, 15,000 people
10:13am
hold three baptist church in the surrounding streets, thousands of people don't get in, virginia dirt does not get in, rosa parks have to find her way into the church and she is on the dais that day and give nature meant a standing ovation, but does not speak. as you recall asking someone if i should say send the she later recalled. and someone saying you've said enough. in a later interview with myles horton, she noted that she just sat there. i think everyone spoke of me. they didn't bother me at that point. the boycott itself lasted 382 days, maintained by tremendous unity, fundraising and twice twice weekly mass meeting at an amazingly elaborate part will do with that at the sporty pickup stations around the city, where they charged regular bus fare
10:14am
and made it possible for go to work, go to church, go to doctors, shopping and other areas. people used to be for the resigned to identify themselves. attempts to break the carpool rhodesian. people rostand pelted with food, sounds, jeering and other things. police pulled over carpoolers unreal and imaginary violations. the white citizens council membership explodes. 14,000 members in the her statements of the boycott. the police commissioner joined him in february using an old book, day and date 89 of the leaders. but instead of weakening the organization, this just further strain since the resolve. rosa parks spends much of that year raising, crisscrossing and racing attention and the naacp,
10:15am
even though her own family is in serious financial trouble. she loses her job about a month into the boycott. she's working as an assistant taylor and her husband is a barber at the maxwell air force base and they say they forbid any talk of the boycott or that woman and for a proud political man like raymond parksthat is an untenable situation, so he also loses his job. so they are in trouble and she spends a lot of that year all across the country, raising money to make this kind of amazing organization possible and also turning this movement into a national struggle. so what happens afterwards? even when the boycott ends, she and brandon still find it
10:16am
impossible to find any sort of steady work. they are still receiving constant to you death threats. they want to start an initiative for all of alabama and the idea she would a full-time and would be based at the las vegas and virginia durst starts to fund raise for this. meanwhile, the dissension and controversy erupts behind closed doors at the montgomery improvement association about a page logical position for rosa parks. the nixon and parks are kind of on the outside and so she is not offered work. eight months later, unable to find a job, dispirited by the situation in facing death to, they decide to leave and move to detroit for her brother is a she describes atreides the promise land that was in.
10:17am
she still struggled to find work. they live as she describes it in that part of the ghetto. her hope how funds continue. she had developed ulcers during the boycott to continue to plague her nature in the hospital in 1860, but they can afford the bill, so they going to collection as they escape cover story by chip magazine on the boycott forgotten woman. they begins to sound the alarm and raise attention to her situation and does lead to some hope. even in the midst of these difficult second half of her life in detroit, challenging racial discrimination of the jim crow north, housing, schools, police brutality. her description of detroit is the northern homicide and that lesson is that palpable reminder
10:18am
to racial inequality was a national plague, not a southern malady. while the public signs a segregation were thankfully gone from a rosa parks not find too much different between race relations in my primary or detroit. in 1964, she volunteered for a political campaign by a young civil rights lawyer by the name of john conyers, who's running on a platform of jobs, peace and justice in both conyers and rosa parks or very early opponents of the war in vietnam. so she starts volunteering on his campaign and actually persuades martin luther king was not doing any kind of political endorsement. she prevails and came to come to detroit to make an appearance for john conyers. this is an extremely crowded with the people running and conyers wins the primary by less than 100 votes than 40 votes and very match attributes part of why he wins to rosa parks
10:19am
prevailing on king to come. so one of the first things conyers says his hires rosa parks to work in is to trade off this coming handling constituent needs in doing community outreach around issues like jobs, housing, welfare and again she's really part of this community presence on the ground. obviously she works there until 1988. certainly by the 80s her role is more ceremonial. she is a keypress and any key legitimizing fours for conyers. conyers gets a lot of flack for hiring rosa parks. all sorts of hate calls and death threats and receive some sort of hate letters. nonetheless, she is undeterred and in the 1960s and 70s,
10:20am
continues her work permits the black power movement. rosa parks personnel euro in fact factors malcolm x and she got to meet and hear him three times. the first time was in 1963 when it comes to detroit and get this message to the grassroots and he also wanted to meet her and makes it known to mutual friends. that is the first time they meet. the last time they meet this is the she gives with the last mass edge, the week before he was assassinated. it's actually a program being given a she is being honored at that program and said they get teammate and have a longer personal discussion that day. so the 1960s and 70s political commitments in clued she is a long lifelong believer in self defense.
10:21am
shia islam believe they need need to be more like history in the curriculum. she has long up for political power and economic justice. all of these long-standing political commitments of rosa parks intersect with the emerging but our movement and so she does what she can to support and take part in that. according to conyers, parks had a heavy progressive streak about her that was uncharacteristic for a new religious to mere for churchgoing lady. part of what she did during the black power years would show up. she spoke with her presence. black national bookstore owner says they rosa parks was everywhere. she attended rallies and beaches and meetings, sign petitions, came up for lectures and immerse yourself about the black history she could get. she processed it believes brutality and help find defense
10:22am
committees. she did not necessarily want to join groups anymore or give speeches, but she got teased her stature to get attention for the cause and she came out to things and that groups username. in 1867 detroit riot began about a mile from parks house. she was deeply saddened by the events, but also very much contextualize what is happening to change the resistance of civil rights demand that had accrued over the decade. she could understand the uprising that she says, as the results of resisting to change that is needed on the forehand. that's a quote. she's other ways the establishment of way people will antagonize and provoke violent, with young people want to prevent themselves as human beings and commentator on this man, there is always something to cut them down. she is going to contextualize
10:23am
the sanctions in a much larger history and a larger weight resistance. she takes part in the people's tribunal. the people's tribunal, and conyers words, becomes a police riot. there's tremendous repression and violence, perhaps the most egregious as three young men are killed at the motel and there is no accountability. the police are not indicted an event the media are not willing to pursue any stories about it. said they hope the people's tribunal and rosa parks serves on the jury for that. she also is part of the local rebuilding after a helps the part of the virginia district council, which builds the first black-owned nonprofit shopping center in the country and not raikes grounded 1981. she hopes around with dorothy
10:24am
duper aldridge and comes down to support the movement there. so in 1966, when stokely carmichael comes to detroit to give one of a famous black power speeches, one of the first things he does from the pulpit is called out in famous parks is my hero because she has just been willing to stand. rosa parks helped take the poor people's movement forward after martin luther king is assassinated preachy goes if the with the solidarity rally and attends the black power convention in philadelphia. she's part of a group of black people at the chicago democratic convention that refuses to endorse any candidate. she attends the national black clinical convention in 1972. she works on the defense committee for joann little, gary tyler, angela davis. she is a long-standing opponent of the death penalty.
10:25am
she is an early and is the first opponent of u.s. involvement in vietnam. she takes part in the jeannette rankin brigade, hums with the winter soldiers hearing. she opposes apartheid and in the 1980s will join tickets outside the south african embassy against the apartheid in u.s. complicity in helping to prop up the south african government. eight days after 9/11 she joins it danny glover, and a number of activists who call for justice, not vengeance to decry any move toward and insist that the united states would work within international law and the international community to bring justice. so where do we go from here? on the anniversary last month, president obama treated a picture of himself in the rosa parks bus in the classic pose.
10:26am
next week the post office will issue a stamp. she is a son of my colleagues put it, the american version of a national thing. but her legacy asks much more of us than a stanford statue. and if we are going to claim her legacy as president obama did last month, we must realize that it asks of us. rosa parks courage has the ability can make an independent stand, even though she and others had done it before and nothing had changed and even when she well understood the harm that might devolve her intimate goes over and over through the course of her life, even when the civil rights movement came certain the therese, she did not rest, they continue joining with old and new comrades to press the struggle forward, not worry what others think of this alliance is. honoring her legacy in the sending a similar courage.
10:27am
it requires acknowledging america's sunny post-racial society and the blighted social injustice is deep in manifests. it entails a profound recommitment to the polls she spent a lifetime fighting for. a criminal justice system, fair and just to of color. unfettered voting rights, educational access and equity, real assistance to the poor and into u.s. wars of occupation and black history in all parts of the curriculum. finally, heeding her word don't give up and don't ever say the movement is dead. thank you. [applause] [inaudible]
10:28am
>> icon to the story from a number of different faces and i come to it as a scholar and historian, but also a political activist myself. i should put that on the table. my researchers start. i was as many of us were, sort stand-in mesmerized and also dismayed by the national pageant that was made of our passing in the race is simultaneously with honoring her, but then seems to be this busy, quiet, not angry, and then i did a talk that was sort of about her funeral
10:29am
memorialization of the civil rights movement and the way the civil rights movement was memorialized to put it in the past to make it this very narrow move and peered at a colleague asked me to turn that talk into an essay for a book that she was editing. face it down and obviously a wonderful number eight in terms of who rosa parks was and the ways the memorialization distorts this. i start to look and a realize how much of the story there was an icon to this research -- the decade of research i did before the rosa parks focus on the civil rights movement in the north. so certain about the work she had done in the north and all the work she had done an analog side this emerging black power movement was really interesting to me is really sort of grabbed me be ties here and in some
10:30am
sense the most iconic story world the story said in trying to many years. and it is so puzzling as i started to do this research that there was not a scholar biography of her. i have to say sometimes people ask me what's the most surprising thing you've learned anything most surprising and his wise and various colored biography of her. here we can say she's got these incredible national honors. she told up, everybody knows who she is, get she has that kind of treatment of a serious political figure. ..
10:31am
>> and then simultaneously even like what was it that this kind of means. and i'm hoping this book is just the beginning of the process. i think there's so much more work to be done on her. so i hope this is sort of the beginning. >> eye gouge or comments about rosa parks to be -- [inaudible]. >> very good, thank you. >> [inaudible]
10:32am
>> so this is, for the second half of this book. so half of the book is basically takes place outside of montgomery. and that required a number of things. i get dozens of interviews, and a lot of those interviews were with people in detroit. because as you alluded to i think, when you look, you are an amazing number of venues with rosa parks. and a lot of them are done in detroit and they're sitting there in john conyers office and do they ask for what do you think about the war and it none, mrs. parks? know they do not. it is a what you think the congressman should be doing? now they do not. so anyways this part was harder
10:33am
to find. but a couple things help with it. the first is the black press, the digitization of the black press what happened in the past decade was an extraordinary research for my research because it meant i could look at like decades worth of many, many different black newspapers but because one of the things even though people didn't ask a lot about their political opinions about things outside of montgomery, they did notice when she would go to things. so it was in some sense was kind of the place i started in terms of trying to forget how to tell the first montgomery story. i talked to a lot of her friends and political colleagues, sort of in detroit and nationally to try to get, to get sort of much more texture to this kind of what she's doing in the '60s and '70s and '80s. i can tell you some of the kind
10:34am
of my favorite stories. one of my favorite stories. people know the lawyer, he was in the rna. is now -- you as a lawyer for the scots sisters. your member that case last year. there were two women who basically served as incredibly long prison sentence is for these really tiny, tiny drug charges. so the sort of older man lawyer on the case, so he tells me to really interesting stories. the first is, so, the republic of new africa, it started in detroit and it is a group started around the kind of issue of reparations or in part of that group and breaks off and comes down to mississippi to set up the black nation. needless to say the fbi doesn't like this. and so there's surveillance and there's this whole kind of raid
10:35am
of the farm and there's a shooting. i mean a shootout between the police and the rna. and 11 members of the rna are arrested and they're paraded through jackson half naked. and one of the neighbors calls back to detroit and since this is happening. and one of the members of the rna, so the lawyer then called conyers office to tell them what's happening and to try to get conyers office to intercede and basically try to protect so these people don't get killed. because there's been a shootout, and officer or to have been shot. and its rosa parks it's important basically calls and calls and calls the department of justice until she gets assurance in that kind of like weird way where it's like no, thethey're not being her but noy will get hurt. and she, at a very much a tribute her kind of quickness and her kind of getting on the phone to the department of
10:36am
justice of saving their lives. and the lawyer is heading the rna at the point says that he would then call passionate he's in prison for the next five years on conspiracy charges, and she just repeatedly called and she says hello, this is rosa parks calling and just to show them that she was watching. so to me it speaks both her from this end or disability to do things. she attended -- so there was a bookstore in detroit and he talks about her like she went, she would participate. to all of these kind of discussion groups and kind of activist groups backin that camf the bookstore. she would attend many of, you know, forums. he was saying to me, he was like
10:37am
i would just go to things. dan, that's rosa and she would be everywhere. he would say. and she would again, undaunted and not worried whatever going to thank if she showed up to listen to some radical speaker, that she went where she wanted to go pick one of the people i work with and conyers office said in these years she drove a huge car apparently a really big wide some sort of american car. mrs. parks was pretty small so she would just be driving her big car around at night to all these events. and the kind of image and the juxtaposition of her, she just was going in her big car. let me stop there. there's lots of others. again, there are many stories in the book, in part through these interviews and in part in i was able to do things like find something, here, a little
10:38am
mention of something but then i would often be enough to trigger peoples memories, or vice versa. so for instance, how find out about the county stuff, i did an interview with dorothy, and she said we went down to the lounge and then i looked and one of the mass meeting, like a year into the campaign there, there is listed that she can gives the opening. so then it makes sense when carmichael comes to detroit a number of months later, right there in the michigan -- one of the first things he does, she's sitting in the front row. he calls out to her. so it helped me keep these little strands together. so a lot of what i did was just try to so these little threats into a kind of bigger tapestry. but again, i think, i hope i started it and then of other people are going to go even farther than i could.
10:39am
>> [inaudible] >> i mean, i think we think we know her. and we think, and because we think we know where. so i think there's this new incredibly kind of vibrant scholarship over the past 10 to 15 years. and all of these young scholars doing all this great work. but i think, at first i think sometimes with parks you just assume it's been done and you assume that, you know, i think i assume this, too. that somebody else had done it,
10:40am
or that it was sort of new what she was and we need to look at other stories come we need to unearth other activists. i need, i think it all of it speaks to what i try to talk about all of it at the beginning, which is this kind of paradox of sort of the way she is honored that sometimes trap door, but she is honored in this very small way. so she is -- it's kind of, she's kind of relegated to being a symbol. and so symbols don't have to have like a whole history. everything that's related to her being a woman. i mean, i think there's a gender aspect to this, too. both in terms of how we imagine what her story is our what it's not and kind of questions we ask. to jesse kelly another funny story, so as i'm on the trial, i call a historian who knows this -- this is one of his specialties and i'm trying to get him -- a source says she did
10:41am
something we wouldn't know about the unlike, no, i know she went to lounge. i have the document. i'm trying to get us to figure out kind of the bigger story. i think there's a sort of sense that because she's so famous, she didn't go to things we would know. when i think it might be the opposite. that because she's so famous for this bubble, a kind of obscures all the other things any kind of much broader history. and the kind of broader coalition that she is working in. >> [inaudible]
10:42am
>> [inaudible] >> [inaudible] >> right.
10:43am
i'm sort of on -- know, when i think what people did in terms of her passing on the ground, and the kind of right, the people standing in line, the people standing outside during her funeral. i think many people across the country did memorials for her. and in the book i'm trying to draw distinction between what i think the national views of her, versus kind of the way people -- i think we'll see this on monday, right, with the centennial, right? i think there are many people who are going to sort of be making real meaning and talking about the substantive legacy. but i think of the way the centennial is going to be used on monday is the sort of again, put the movie in the past, it's in some senses it's a feel good about ourselves, like look at great we are. we are honoring rosa parks. and i think that's, that's what i think the kind of, the danger
10:44am
lies. i think this is not just about parks. there are uses of the civil rights movement and the way that a very narrow history, and of martin luther king. and she was very disappointed. she's fought really hard for a king holiday and then she sort sees the king holiday turn into this fuzzy green thing that is now is. and the substance of the activist she knew starts to kind of get lost in the holiday. and i think, i imagine she might have the same in terms of sort of the, some of the ways that she is honored and the way, the substance of her. in terms of the later stuff, let me tell another story. so during the boycott, local 600 wants to bring rosa parks to detroit, to speak to the local. local 600 is a real kind of militant local uaw. it had been purged of its communist and it was a very much
10:45am
seen by walter as a troublemaking local. and so walter actually opposes local 600 wanting to bring rosa parks to detroit. but they raised the money and they bring it anyway, kind of his objection. is so interesting, obviously six years, seven years later, right, rosa will be at the front of the march on washington key seems like this sort of this real civil rights stalwart but there's this, he wasn't always there. so they bring her and bring her to detroit, and most of the hotels in detroit are not open to black people. so they put up in the garfield hotel, and she makes a number of very important connections at that meeting that and she's going to draw on both personally and also politically when they move back, not move back, move there. and so she has a long-standing
10:46am
relationship with black labor. and interestingly, it is -- the detroit naacp is a very big but in some sense, it is just there was a very middle-class and upper active branch. again when she first moved there. there's a little naacp chapter in river rouge, river rouge is a kind of bedroom community of detroit but it's also full of autoworkers. is full of local 600 autoworkers in particular. and it is that little naacp group that actually gets the national naacp to help rosa parks. it is those sort of militant, and a little river rouge chapter, two things. they sort of got a very different path. they're doing all sorts of kind of boycotts of the banks because they're not hiring black people. and then the actually, after the
10:47am
assassination they passed a resolution calling on the national naacp to come out against his assassination. obvious with the national naacp doesn't go for that too much. so it's this little river rouge chapter that kind of makes the national naacp after this article that runs and jeff that i was talking about, it's this river rouge chapter gives the naacp to kind of help her, right? to step in. so she sort of -- she has a long history with kind of labor and in detroit, and labor i think really also was like a huge kind of protector and supporter of her, particularly in those years, which were i think very hard years for her family. talking about 59, 60, 61, those years.
10:48am
>> [inaudible] >> great. i would love it. >> [inaudible] >> [inaudible]
10:49am
>> [inaudible] >> right. he told me this funny source alternative some point in the midst of this she comes someone's to have a wage reduction seller. and he talks about it is the only way to reduction sound i've ever had. she was feeling guilty she was traveling so much into so much public appearances and worried that is going to feel like she was kind of taking advantage or not sort of living up to her
10:50am
responsibility. so he told me that he was like of course i want you doing those things and i'm not going to but i think doing it was so horrifying that there's rosa parks and you should reduce my salary because doing all these public appearances. but, yeah. any other -- >> [inaudible] >> [inaudible]
10:51am
>> [inaudible] >> [inaudible]
10:52am
>> yeah, thank you. i mean, i often, when i'm teaching that, like she's that high lander and she's like, you know, nothing is ever going to happen and people are going to -- i think that's what the other people have today. my students often wish, they look back on those years and they say back in the day people were so much more unified. i wish i lived back in that day. like people today are not unified. and then you're like these are the same fears that these people grappled with. it wasn't that, history doesn't present itself like indian, like history is happening. stop by. it's scary and, and it doesn't come to come in the kind of worry, right? if we so think about the weekend before the first boycott, how worried people were, right? that that's not, that the
10:53am
worries we have are the worries that they had. and so i think also, i think humanizing the history so that you can see how to make it -- like by humanizing i think it also makes it come to conceal people make choices and have people were able to make choices. you know, the very community, as the story goes, e.d. nixon calls martin luther king that morning. six in the morning can and king says can you call me back? right? i am brand-new to the equator one month old baby. it's six in the morning, right? can you call me back? he doesn't know who martin luther king and beyond? he just martin luther king, right? and he out of his house, then, he has the conviction but it's six in the morning and he has a brand-new baby, right. and then when nixon calls him back, he wants to do it and
10:54am
nixon jokes around this is good because i was planning coming to your church anyway. but i think this kind of detail also i think makes it easier to imagine how we would to our celtic i think that's the other reason for a more detailed look at her and her life, you know, among other kind, among other civil rights histories is that a think it gives us a different way forward. >> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers. watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> good morning. good morning, thank you. yeah, i moved up my flight and am going to dash to the airport right after, literally right after i spend about 10 minutes
10:55am
here reading. i'm going to read something quite short on the theory that less is more, which is what i tried to tell my writing students and speaking of them, i have, one of the reasons i am hurtling back to cold philadelphia is because they have hold office hours tomorrow with a lovely little iv brats. [laughter] so i best get home and sleep well, or try to sleep welcome all the my wife and i say we haven't slept well since the jimmy carter administration. [laughter] thank you so much and what our logistic am holding up come you holding us out. i think that's the key. and i bet i won't even have time to formally say thank you and goodbye to miles, so i will just, i want to say to miles how eloquent his little say what introduction, and tell him goodbye. and arlo and all the rest of you
10:56am
for coming. and i'm supposed to read something. so, i was fretting about what that would be because i wanted to make a very short. i'm going to read from the end of the prologue. one of the things that is trying to stress and the talk that i gave yesterday, and, indeed, the panel that i appeared on the day before, is that for all of the undeniable, appalling dark side of ernest hemingway, there was also the light. there was this abode of generosity. and sometimes it came out best when a child was involved. not his own child necessarily. especially an ill child. well, who would respond to that? but he seemed to respond in a
10:57am
special way. and so i was thinking of reading something of a key west passage, and i said no, that would be like a piece of coal offering something to newcastle. phone not going to read that. i'm just going to read this little moment from the end of the prologue. and, indeed, it's the end of ernest hemingway's life. when everything is lost, but there is still something there. looped backward 17 days from his death to june 15, 1961 at rochester, minnesota. a man in a psychiatric ward at saint mary's hospital at mayo clinic is writing a letter to a nine year old boy. and then writes it on to small sheets of no paper in his big
10:58am
round legible hand with his trademark downhill slant. and irreversibly damaged earnest anyway, his inner landscape now of paranoids nightmare has found within himself at the end of his life the kindness and courage and momentary lucidity, not to save literary grace, to write 210 beautiful words to a kid he likes very much. whenever i begin to feel repulsion at hemingway's ego and boorish behavior toward other human beings, i like to take out a copy of this letter. 210 words with so much emotion talked below the surface of the pros, the sentences piled driven by contain feeling and acute observation of the natural
10:59am
world, would've been a half decent output for a workday, even in a masters prime. the boy, his name is treachery, although everyone, including hemingway, calls him fritz, has a congenial heart condition. he is a set of hemingway's small town doctor who was also one of hemingway's favorite duck hunting companions. in these last weeks, hemingway has been brought once more, idaho for treatment for male. not long after this note to fritz, hemingway will fool his foolish doctors out of the world-famous clinic into believing he is well enough to go home to idaho. and almost immediately the boss shotgun will go off in a sunday quiet of the house that sits a couple of hundred